Free Essay About Disagreeing With Objective Morality And Equality
My main view in this paper is an objection to the opinion that ethical statements and behavior cannot fall within scientific study because they lack objectivity. I will proceed by examining the work of Ayer. Firstly, I will provide the view that I object. Secondly, I will give an overview of the article. Meanwhile, I will provide a succinct description of the article. I will highlight some phrases used in the article that are pertinent to my discussion. I will clarify two main important pieces of jargon and ambiguities. Thirdly, I will provide my objection to Ayer’s article, giving reasons to support my stand. Fourthly, I will present an objection that a proponent of Ayer’s views may raise to challenge my opinion. As well, I will provide the reasons for the justification of the proponent’s response.
The view I disagree with
The view I do not agree with is from Ayer, in his article “Critique of ethics and theology." In this article, the author claims that statements of value cannot justifiably qualify as hypotheses. Thus, they cannot assist in the prediction of people’s courses of action. As such, they are not applicable to scientific inquiry.
A description of the view
In this article, Ayer objects to the validity of value statements in providing meaningful direction in scientific endeavors. Ayer compares two notions, the declarations of value versus the judgments of value. Certainly, Ayer supports the latter in the fulfillment of credible scientific enterprise. Indeed, he claims that judgments of value agree with the general empiricist principles. As well, they are satisfactory in themselves. He regards statements of value as mere scientific statements concerning their importance. However, declarations of value become only expressions of emotion and not fact when looking at them from a literal perspective. Thus, Ayer concludes that the declarations of value add up only to esthetic statements.
According to Ayer, Ethics as a branch of philosophy is not a homogenous whole. Precisely, he states that the ethical contents fall into four main segments. Firstly, they are propositions. Propositions are statements that express the definitions of ethical terms. Thus, they are judgments about the possibility of the legitimacy of particular definitions. Secondly, there are propositions, which describe the phenomenon and causes of various moral experiences. Thirdly, there are statements that exhort moral virtue. Finally, ethics contains real ethical judgments. Indeed, Ayer sees the exhortations to moral virtue as commands and ejaculations to various courses of action
Ayer compares subjectivist and utilitarian concepts of morality. Notably, he states that neither would suffice in holistically addressing the ethical concerns of Philosophy. Indeed, he supports the absolutist view of moral philosophy. According to the absolutist view, a study of the statements of value cannot subscribe to observation. Surprisingly, they can only be understood through intellectual intuition.For instance, the subjectivist considers statements of value as assertions of the existence of particular emotions. On the other hand, Ayer postulates that moral statements are only excitants (propellers) and expressions of emotions. As such, ethical arguments have no validity. Moral statements both express and elicit certain emotions in people. They are calculated to provoke certain emotions. Thus, they are sentimental in nature. People do not dispute over questions of value but matters of fact. Therefore, arguments involving values do not seek to draw their opponents to accept the opposing value. Ideally, they are trying to table the correct circumstances or setting for the person in question. Thus, they are asking the other person to consider the prevailing situation before making a ruling.
Ayer concludes that it is not possible to prove the existence of any god. Unlike in natural sciences, the existence of god cannot be proved by a priori statements. Only the empirical propositions can be probable. According to Ayer, a priori propositions are only particular because they are tautologies.
Two disambiguation in Ayer’s article
Ayer uses the phrase statements of value and judgments of value. Statements of value refer to the remarks that one makes in a particular situation or circumstance. Indeed, such remarks come from the speaker’s heart. They express the feelings and sentiments of the speaker. Certainly, they may express doubt, fear, shock, surprise or discouragement. Often, whenever people use the statements of value they show what they consider precious. Indeed, these statements reveal what is important and valuable to them. In addition, they show the principles that define their lives. At times, they display the beliefs that they hold. For instance, human right activists use words such as unjust, unfair, disrespectful, and dignity.
On the other hand, the judgments of value are the viewpoint with which people look at values. They are reflections as to the things or actions that are good. Most certainly, they involve an objective outlook at the values that a particular person or group of persons hold. Indeed, they act as a guide in distinguishing between the right and wrong courses of action in a given circumstance. Therefore, the judgments of value are pre-determined. The social environment in which a person is born significantly influences their value system. The interactions that one has with the people while young instill some values in them. For instance, a person who used to see many people get drunk in the community is likely to consider drunkenness as good. As a result, they are likely to end up becoming alcoholics in their adult life. Thus, in consideration of the judgments of value, the element of objectivity is significantly altered. To illustrate, Aristotle believed in the virtue of moderation in life. Hedonists believed in the notion of valuing the things that bring pleasure to one.
My objection to the view
The view that I object to in Ayer’s account is that ethical concepts are pseudo-concepts, and, therefore unanalyzable. They are. As such, the estate of studying the emotional expressions and provocations should only be left to the psychologists and sociologists. There can never be something called ethical science. Ayer, therefore, concludes that any moral inquiry must confine itself to the normative system of a person or a group of persons. Accordingly, he claims that we must study the moral habits of the entity in question. Besides, the study should seek to understand the things, which cause the habits and feelings. Thus, such an inquest falls under the purview of the social sciences.
Why I think my objection is a good one
I believe that ethical issues can be subject to scientific study. Indeed, if their various facets could be identified and analyzed they would provide better understanding of society. One of the main aims of science is to provide a better understanding of phenomenon. Clearly, science helps us to recognize the patterns in our environment and society. It depends on the item of view that one is studying. As such, ethical issues involving statements and judgments of value can fall within scientific inquiry. For example, one can study the normative structure of the ethics and morality of a given group of people. Thus, the study would involve a dissection of the community in view into the ethical comp nets that exists. The findings of ethical studies ought to remain within the study population. Certainly, this is because groups of people hold different values. Therefore, the values among the native Indians of America may differ sharply from those of the Australian aborigines. However, the inability to have universally objective morality does not disqualify ethics from scientific inquiry.
The response that the best advocate of the view would give
One possible answer that the best proponent would give to my view is that questions of value do not conform to the scientific principles. He would claim that studies of value cannot consistently subject to the laws of scientific inquiry. Thus, this would mean that different studies would give divergent results. Certainly, this is due to the subjectivity of ethics. Scientific laws remain consistent and applicable across cultures and time. On the other hand, studies of values contain both universal and subjective undertones when applied to people and time. For example, a church may consider a particular type of clothing to be immoral or irreligious at one time. However, later, they may change their view in light of modernity and new developments. Scientific laws apply regardless of the place in consideration. For instance, the laws of motion and friction remain constant.
The justification of this response
Several elements strengthen this argument. Firstly, this response addresses scientific inquiry from an objective dimension. Accordingly, it challenges the thought of carrying scientific study on matters of ethics based on the principles of research. Secondly, this argument considers the longevity of the two sets of examination. The empirical scientific research applied in the physical, and natural sciences show longer lifetime compared to the ethical studies. As such, the findings drawn in scientific studies are more stable and reliable compared to those in the ethics. Thirdly, this response places the natural and physical sciences at a higher pedestal based on their universality of application. For example, the law of motion and friction apply in all areas.
Studies of values, ethics, and morality pose unique challenges. However, it is crucial that anyone engaging in such studies understand the underlying context of the subjects. Given proper considerations, the idea of scientific inquiry into ethical issues can still hold water. Moreover, studies of ethics should not generalize their findings. Ideally, this is because of the subjectivities of the objects of study. Certainly, studies involving morals and values contain emotional overtones. Indeed, these overtones are real and should not be ignored. In effect, emotional expressions influence the behavior and responses of humanity to his environment.
Ayer, Alfred J. "Critique of ethics and theology." Language, Truth, and Logic.1936. New York: Penguin Books,1971. Print.